Research Papers

The Interplay of Heat Transfer and Endothermic Chemistry Within a Ceramic Microchannel Reactor

[+] Author and Article Information
Danielle M. Murphy, Margarite Parker

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Colorado School of Mines,
1500 Illinois Street,
Golden, CO 80401

Neal P. Sullivan

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Colorado School of Mines,
1500 Illinois Street,
Golden, CO 80401
e-mail: nsulliva@mines.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received August 16, 2013; final manuscript received November 27, 2013; published online February 26, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Ranganathan Kumar.

J. Thermal Sci. Eng. Appl 6(3), 031007 (Feb 26, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: TSEA-13-1139; doi: 10.1115/1.4026296 History: Received August 16, 2013; Revised November 27, 2013

Ceramic microchannel heat-exchanger and reactor technology is capable of achieving high performance while operating under high-temperature, corrosive, and/or oxidative environments. This work describes two computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling studies which examine the coupling of heat transfer and endothermic methane-steam-reforming chemistry within a ceramic microchannel reactor. These modeling tools are then applied to improve microchannel-reactor design and performance. Within the reactor, methane is converted to syngas through steam reforming; the thermal requirements for this endothermic chemistry are provided by heat transfer from hot-inert gas on adjacent layers. Fluid flow, heat transfer, and complex elementary surface chemistry are all simulated using the ANSYS FLUENT models. CFD studies reveal the substantial chemical contribution of reforming on thermal gradients across and within the reactor. Improved control of the reforming temperature is also discovered through stack-design analysis, where an odd number of inert-gas layers are found to create more-uniform reactive wall temperatures. Model results provide insight on the interplay of conjugate heat transfer and chemical kinetics in reactor design.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


Kandlikar, S., Garimella, S., Li, D., Colin, S., and King, M. R., 2005, Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow in Minichannels and Microchannels, Elsevier Ltd., Oxford, UK.
Anxionnaz, Z., Cabassuid, M., Gourdon, C., and Tochon, P., 2008, “Heat Exchanger/Reactors (HEX Reactors): Concepts, Technologies: State-of-the-Art,” Chem. Eng. Process., 47, pp. 2029–2050. [CrossRef]
Thormann, J., Pfeifer, P., and Kunz, U., 2012, “Dynamic Performance of Hexadecane Steam Reforming in a Microstructured Reactor,” Chem. Eng. J., 191, pp. 410–415. [CrossRef]
Jensen, K. F., 1999, “Microchemical Systems: Status, Challenges, and Opportunities,” AIChE J., 45(10), pp. 2051–2054. [CrossRef]
Strumpf, H. J., and Muley, A., 2007, “Advanced Heat Exchangers for Use With Aircraft Engines,” 18th International Society for Air Breathing Engines Conference Proceedings.
Khan, M. G., and Fartaj, A., 2011, “A Review on Microchannel Heat Exchangers and Potential Applications,” Int. J. Energy Res., 35(7), pp. 553–582. [CrossRef]
Foumeny, E., and Heggs, P., 1991, Heat Exchange Engineering, Compact Heat Exchangers: Techniques of Size Reduction, Vol. 2, Ellis Horwood, London.
Shah, R. K., and Sekulic, D. P., 2003, Fundamentals of Heat Exchanger Design, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
Luo, L., Fan, Y., and Tondeur, D., 2007, “Heat Exchanger: From Micro- to Multi-Scale Design Optimization,” Int. J. Energy Res., 31(13), pp. 1266–1274. [CrossRef]
Kiwi-Minsker, L., and Renken, A., 2005, “Microstructured Reactors for Catalytic Reactions,” Catal. Today, 110(1-2), pp. 2–14. [CrossRef]
Lewinsohn, C., Wilson, M., Fellows, J., and Anderson, H., Multiscale, Ceramic Microsystems for Heat and Mass Transfer, Ceramatec, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT.
Knitter, R., Gohring, D., Risthaus, P., and HauBelt, J., 2001, “Microfabrication of Ceramic Microreactors,” Microsyst. Technol., 7, pp. 85–90. [CrossRef]
Knitter, R., Gohring, D., Mechnich, P., and Broucek, R., 2000, “Ceramic Microreactor for High-Temperature Reactions,” 4th International Conference on Microreaction Technology, pp. 455–460.
Knitter, R., and Liauw, M. A., 2004, “Ceramic Microreactors for Heterogeneously Catalyzed Gas-Phase Reactions,” Lab Chip, 4, pp. 378–383. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Sommers, A., Wang, Q., Han, X., T'Joen, C., Park, Y., and Jacobi, A., 2010, “Ceramics and Ceramic Matrix Composites for Heat Exchangers in Advanced Thermal Systems—A Review,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 30, pp. 1277–1291. [CrossRef]
Murphy, D. M., Manerbino, A., Parker, M., Blasi, J., Kee, R. J., and Sullivan, N. P., 2013, “Methane Steam Reforming in a Novel Ceramic Microchannel Reactor,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 38, pp. 8741–8750. [CrossRef]
Kee, R. J., Almand, B. B., Blasi, J. M., Rosen, B. L., Hartmann, M., Sullivan, N. P., Zhu, H., Manerbino, A. R., Menzer, S., Coors, W. G., and Martin, J. L., 2011, “The Design, Fabrication, and Evaluation of a Ceramic Counter-Flow Microchannel Heat Exchanger,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 31, pp. 2004–2012. [CrossRef]
Kolb, G., and Hessel, V., 2004, “Micro-Structured Reactors for Gas Phase Reactions,” Chem. Eng. J., 98(1-2), pp. 1–38. [CrossRef]
Bhutta, M. M. A., Hayat, N., Bashir, M. H., Khan, A. R., Ahmad, K. N., and Khan, S., 2012, “CFD Applications in Various Heat Exchangers Design: A Review,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 32(C), pp. 1–12. [CrossRef]
Zhai, X., Ding, S., Cheng, Y., Jin, Y., and Cheng, Y., 2010, “CFD Simulation With Detailed Chemistry of Steam Reforming of Methane for Hydrogen Production in an Integrated Micro-Reactor,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 35, pp. 5383–5392. [CrossRef]
Arzamendi, G., Diéguez, P., Montes, M., Odriozola, J., Sousa-Aguiar, E. F., and Gandia, L., 2009, “Methane Steam Reforming in a Microchannel Reactor for GTL Intensification: A Computation Fluid Dynamics Simulation Study,” Chem. Eng. J., 154, pp. 168–173. [CrossRef]
Arzamendi, G., Uriz, I., Navajas, A., Diéguez, P. M., Gandía, L. M., Montes, M., Centeno, M. A., and Odriozola, J. A., 2012, “A CFD Study on the Effect of the Characteristic Dimension of Catalytic Wall Microreactors,” AIChE J., 58, pp. 2785–2797. [CrossRef]
Irani, M., Alizadehdakhel, A., Pour, A. N., Hoseini, N., and Adinehnia, M., 2011, “CFD Modeling of Hydrogen Production Using Steam Reforming of Methane in Monolith Reactors: Surface or Volume-Base Reaction Model?,” Int. J. Hydrogen Energy, 36(24), pp. 15602–15610. [CrossRef]
Karakaya, C., and Deutschmann, O., 2013, “Kinetics of Hydrogen Oxidation on Rh/Al2O3 Catalysts Studied in a Stagnation-Flow Reactor,” Chem. Eng. Sci., 89, pp. 171–184. [CrossRef]
Karakaya, C., 2012, “A Novel, Hierarchically Developed Surface Kinetics for Oxidation and Reforming of Methane and Propane Over Rh/Al2O3,” Ph.D. thesis, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany.
ANSYS FLUENT software package version 14.0.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

(a) Photograph of microchannel heat exchanger/reactor. (b) Exploded illustration showing hot inert (red) and cold reactive (blue) gas-flow paths in a counterflow configuration. Magnified section highlights lamination points required for hermetic sealing during fabrication. (Reprinted with permission from Murphy et al., 2013, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 38, pp. 8741–8750. Copyright 2013 Elsevier [16].)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Geometrically simplified four-layer model geometry (with dimensions)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

(a) 2D temperature field down the center length of reactive channel 1; (b) net heat of reaction on the reactive surface within reactive channel 1; (c) 2D temperature field down the center length of inert channel 1. In all figures, the width (x direction) is magnified by a factor of five.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Temperature profiles in the vertical (y) direction located at (a) z = 17.9 mm; and (b) z = 53.7 mm. Transverse position is held constant in the center of the reactor at x = 2.3 mm.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

Geometrically simplified model geometry for the five-layer design (with dimensions)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Average wall temperatures in the four- and five-layer designs as a function of axial position z within the reactive channels

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Microchannel-reactor model results comparing performance of four- and five-layer designs. Experimental results for four-layer reactor are shown as symbols. (a) Temperature of exhaust streams, (b) product mole fractions, and (c) methane conversion, hydrogen yield, and carbon monoxide selectivity as a function of GHSV.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 8

Model-predicted thermal and mole-fraction fields: (a) reactive-side gas temperature, (b) mole fraction of CH4, and (c) mole fraction of H2 as a function of channel width (x) and axial position (z) down the center of reactive channel two for the 50,000 h−1 GHSV case. The x-axis is scaled by a factor of 5 relative to the z-axis.



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In